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The Dress Codes of Respectability

Well-dressed Black activists were not trying to impress White people

People at the 1963 Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C. Photo: Warren K. Leffler via the Library of Congress

A 2020 South Carolina march against police violence had a dress code. The organizers asked that demonstrators “come in dress attire, please”. Later, they boasted that the thousands-strong crowd had been “fully adorned in their Sunday best.” Not everyone was impressed. Many thought the dress…




Momentum is a blog that captures and reflects the moment we find ourselves in, one where rampant anti-Black racism is leading to violence, trauma, protest, reflection, sorrow, and more. Momentum doesn’t look away when the news cycle shifts.

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Richard Thompson Ford

Richard Thompson Ford

Professor. Lawyer. Dilettante mixologist. Amateur sartorialist. Watch geek. Author of Dress Codes: how the laws of fashion made history.

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